5 Facts You Didn’t Know about the Alaska State Fair
On Thursday, vendors will turn on the fryers, 4-H Club members will bring in their livestock, and fans of all ages will travel to Palmer for a lineup of star-studded entertainment. Yes, it’s that time of year — the Alaska State Fair is here.
Edible Alaska wants to get you ready for the 2017 fair. We’ll be posting fair-centric stories leading up to opening day on August 24, starting with a little fair trivia.
Did you know...
1. The Tanana Valley Fair is the “official” state fair in even-numbered years and the Alaska State Fair in Palmer is the “official” state fair in odd-numbered years.
According to the Alaska State Fair’s website, in 1956 the Fair Board petitioned the Alaska Legislature for official designation as the Alaska State Fair. Sen. Jalmar Kerttula presented a bill to designate the Alaska State Fair as the “official” state fair. As luck would have it, the Tanana Valley Fair in Fairbanks made the same request, so the Legislature decided to alternate between the two fairs.
2. There are more than 65 food stands listed in the official Alaska State Fair food guide.
From turkey legs and pork chops to Denali cream puffs and fresh Alaska oysters, there’s surely something to meet everyone’s taste buds. You can check out the official list of food vendors organized by trail on the Alaska State Fair’s website. (They even have healthy, vegetarian, and new vendors marked!)
3. Two world records for the largest cabbage have been set at the Alaska State Fair.
The Guinness Record for heaviest green cabbage is held by Scott Robb, whose 138.25-pound brassica set the record on August 31, 2012 at the Alaska State Fair. This year is the 22nd annual Giant Cabbage Weigh Off. The winners take home bragging rights as well as cash prizes. This year’s weigh off takes place September 1 at 7 p.m.
4. There are multiple live cooking competitions at the fair.
If you love the TV shows “Chopped” or “Iron Chef,” make sure to check out the four culinary showdowns happening at this year’s fair. The chili and Dutch oven cook-offs are both qualifying sanctioned events where the winners will go on to compete at the national or world stages. The best part though? Free samples.
5. JFK visited the fair on its 25th anniversary.
The Alaska State Fair has a long and storied past that can be explored using an interactive timeline on the fair’s website. Attendance reached 30,000 in 1960, according to the site, and among those fairgoers was presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, who made an appearance to kick off his “New Frontiers” campaign.
“... I want to tell you that I feel at home here in Alaska — and for good reason. For Alaska is a new state. And Alaska is a land of opportunity,” Kennedy said in a speech at the Alaska State Fair on September 3, 1960.
You can read the full transcript of the speech from the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.
Be sure to stop by the Edible Alaska booth and pick up a copy of the fall issue. We'll see you at the fair!